A tornado is a rapidly rotating, funnel-shaped column of air that extends to the ground from a cumulonimbus cloud. It can include thunderstorms and hail. It often has a roaring sound, like that of 100 trains, or a crashing thunderous sound. Wind speeds are at least 110 miles an hour, but can be in excess of 300 miles an hour. 

Individual and Group Safety Information

The following are important safety considerations for individuals:

  • Remember that the National Weather Service issues a TORNADO WATCH when the possibility of tornadoes exists within a given region.
  • A TORNADO WARNING is issued when a tornado is spotted or indicated on radar.
  • Remember that tornadoes form suddenly and there may not be time for a TORNADO WARNING before a twister strikes. All faculty and staff should know the difference between a WATCH and a WARNING.
  • Stay in interior hallways on the ground floor that are NOT parallel to the tornado's path, OR basements.
  • Never take shelter in buildings with wide, free-span roofs (e.g., Moore Fieldhouse)
  • Avoid all windows and other glassed areas.
  • Faculty and staff are advised to become familiar with the Severe Weather Shelter Zone buildings closest to their office/work stations.
  • Upon notice of a TORNADO WATCH, locate your personal items and keys in case an evacuation is necessary. Upon notice of a TORNADO WARNING, turn your computer off, gather personal items (purse, cell phone, office keys), lock your office, and move quickly to a Severe Weather Shelter Zone.
  • Once in a shelter area, individuals should assume a protective posture, including covering one's head, facing an interior wall.
  • Remember that most tornado deaths are caused by head injuries.
  • Please do not leave the shelter until the "all clear" sign is given via the Southern Alert, campus email, or by members of the University Police Department.
  • Notify the program manager responsible for animal safety precautions within any animal-based university research labs. The program manager is responsible for ensuring the continuity of this research and academic programming.

Severe Weather Shelter Zones

The following buildings have areas that should be used as Severe Weather Shelter Zones:

East Side of Campus

  • Adanti Student Center - Loading Dock, Movie Theater, 2nd Floor Interior Rooms
  • Buley Library - Front half of basement away from glass
  • Davis Hall  - Stair Towers (away from glass),
  • Lecture Halls 101 & 102
  • Engleman Hall - Wings A and B (Basement Only)
  • Facilities Operations Building - Operation in lower level adjacent to street
  • Jennings Hall  - Interior hallways and stair towers
  • Lyman Center - Basement only
  • Morrill Hall - Basement only
  • Pelz Gymnasium - Basement only

West Side of Campus

  • Alumni House - Basement only
  • Connecticut Hall - Middle section of basement
  • Granoff Hall  - Basement Only
  • Lang House - Basement Only
  • North Campus - Interior hallways, Floors 1 to 5
  • Orlando House - Basement Only
  • Residence Halls: Hickerson, Chase,Wilkinson, Farnham, Neff - Basements away from windows
  • Schwartz Hall - Basement corridors
  • West Campus Residence Hall  - Inside wing hallways

The following buildings do NOT have areas that are used as Severe Weather Shelter Zones.

Individuals should evacuate to the nearest building that has such a shelter zone. Faculty and staff in these facilities are strongly encouraged to identify NOW the closest available protection zone. In the event of an ALERT, essential personnel will be available to assist in directing building evacuations.

East Side of Campus

  • Nursing Building - Should evacuate to Facilities Operations Building lower level

West Side of Campus

  • Brownell Hall - Should evacuate to Wilkinson, Farnham, Chase or Neff hall basements
  • Moore Fieldhouse - Should evacuate to the locker rooms in the Moore Field House pool area and the main and lower corridors leading to the pool area. 

    North Campus Townhouses - Should evacuate to North Campus Midrise 

  • OB 1 and TE 6 - Should evacuate to Chase Hall basement
  • Wintergreen Building* - Should evacuate to the locker rooms in the Moore Field House pool area and the main and lower corridors leading to the pool area.

*Those individuals who are not able to safely leave the Wintergreen Building and need to seek shelter immediately may seek shelter in the following area of the Wintergreen Building:

  • The restrooms in the front lobby